New Ravens Make Tomlin ‘Uneasy’

Could the Ravens have a game-planning advantage with 20 new players?

Posted by Ryan Mink on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink, Week 1 vs Steelers

The Ravens know the Steelers and the Steelers know the Ravens.

In the storied history between division rivals, each team is so familiar with the other that there are generally few wrinkles one team can insert.

But could the Ravens have an advantage in game planning this year?

The Ravens are more unfamiliar than in years past and, considering it’s Week 1, the Steelers won’t have any time to see how Baltimore plans on incorporating its new faces.

Baltimore has 20 new players on its 2011 opening roster when compared to 2010.

As many as six could be starters: wide receiver Lee Evans, fullback Vonta Leach, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, center Andre Gurode, cornerback Jimmy Smith and strong safety Bernard Pollard.

That’s not even counting players who were on the team but are stepping into leading roles such as nose tackle Terrence Cody, tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta and cornerback Cary Williams.

“As I sit here today, I am probably a little bit more uneasy than I normally am when we play these guys, because they have so many new guys that we have to account for,” Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

“I think that’s something that needs to be stated up front about this. They probably know more about us than we know about them. I think [General Manager] Ozzie Newsome and company have been active this offseason in terms of improving their team. And it’s evident when you look at preseason tape when you look at some of the new guys that they have playing positions for them.”

Harbaugh saw Tomlin’s quotes.

“If that’s something that’s a concern then that’s a good thing,” he said.

Not only are the new players an issue, but there’s also Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano’s new playbook, which he of course didn’t show much of during the preseason.

“All we have is the preseason, so we have to be ready to adjust on the run on the sideline,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has just seven new players on its roster and none of them project to land in the starting rotation. The Steelers, who were well over the salary cap this offseason, had to cut players and restructure contracts in order to maintain much of last year’s Super Bowl roster.

Thus, Baltimore’s coaching staff – which has been preparing for the Steelers throughout training camp and, as usual, spent an entire week on them during the offseason – has a working understanding of Pittsburgh’s starters.

Linebacker Ray Lewis said the advantage could go either way.

“You can look at it for them and say, ‘Keeping their core together is an advantage for them,’” Lewis said.

“And then you can come on the flip side for us and say, ‘The different changes we did make, we didn’t make changes to get worse, we made changes to get better.’ That unfamiliar territory can be really tricky for a lot of people without having a complete offseason.”

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